Happy, Joyous and “Old”?
On November 18, 1996 I became a grandfather at the ripe, “old” age of 33! Yup, I’ve been a grandfather for 16 years and loving it – It’s the best job in the world! This weekend I’ll have a chance to really feel it. Mia will celebrate her 16th birthday with family, friends and 4 bands at a rock concert in Jacksonville Beach, FL. When she called to tell me the details Mia made sure to let me know I’d probably be spending a lot of time outside – “It’s not really your type of music Pop.” I thanked her for the invitation and assured her Anita and I could find the door if necessary.
It’s times like this that get me to reflect on how really fortunate I am. I remember insisting that I could not extend my business trip in Japan because I wanted to be home for Mia’s birth, then racing home from the airport in Cincinnati to pick up Cindy and heading to the hospital – Rebekah’s water had broke a week early! Also sitting in the hall and hearing her cry for the first time as she was born, then holding her in my arms – she had me!
After Cindy and I divorced I gave serious consideration to leaving Cincinnati. Cincinnati is a nice town but it’s not close to the beach (to SCUBA dive), it’s not close to the mountains (to snow ski) and it’s not close to my family (to celebrate life). I was square in the middle with Mom and Dad on the left coast and Kevin and Kendra and their family’s on the right coast. No one wanted to visit Cincinnati and I couldn’t decide which way to go – west to spend time with my parents and Mother’s siblings or east to enjoy time as an uncle. In the end I made the choice to stay right where I was.
With no blood relation Rebekah was well within her rights to pat me on the head and send me on my way after my divorce from Mia’s grandmother. She chose instead to welcome me into her family and encouraged me to continue taking an active role in Mia’s life. I spent every Sunday afternoon with Mia (and later with her sister Anna as well). Mia was my roller coaster buddy in the spring and fall, my water park buddy in the summer and my ski buddy in the winter. We had 4 to 6 weeks between winter and spring and fall and winter where we discovered new adventures – enjoying and exploring local parks, playing games at Sports Plus, watching movies at my house, flying a kite or launching model rockets, learning to climb trees. If we were in town on a Sunday afternoon we were together.
I also enjoyed additional “privileges”. I was invited to school events, graduations, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, cook outs and so much more. If it involved celebrating with family I received an invitation. Me, the only one who really wasn’t family. Rebekah and her family “adopted” me, opening their homes, their lives and their hearts to welcome me, not just into Mia’s life, but into theirs as well.
As I sit here preparing to pack for the trip to Florida I’m overcome by a sense of gratitude. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve shared with Mia and her family, for the love they extended to me and the opportunity to accept yet one more invitation to celebrate with them. I’m certain the music will be too loud, that I’ll likely not recognize a single song, but I can’t wait to step in and enjoy my role as Mia’s Pop!